Some students love school and thrive, but many are anxious. Grades often feel like the only measure of success for kids. A positive school year builds self-confidence and self-esteem. Our goal as families is to build self-esteem and we can do this with a structured, intentional approach.
Start off strong with self-care
The transition to school can be rough. Moving from little structure to lots of structure, no bedtime to early bedtime, and getting up early are all opportunities for crankiness. Start the transition to school a week ahead with earlier bedtimes. Getting more read helps everyone. Make a plan for breakfast, lunch at dinner to smooth the transition. Looking forward to community times together as well as nutritious options is a happy thought. As the school year progresses, self-care is where to turn to when the going gets rough.
Start the school year with the support needed. If your student struggled with math, have a tutor in place. Subject area tutors get your student on track or ahead early on in the school year. Bigger support can look like a homework study partner, a coach, or a therapist. Bringing in support helps your student know you understand their needs. Your strong support by building a bigger team for your student shows you understand their needs. Be open to adding support throughout the school year.
From the beginning of the year, acknowledge successes of all sorts. Praise is a powerful strategy for building self-esteem. That can be a strong work ethic, tenacity, friendliness, kindness, inclusivity, and other qualities your student is developing. Good grades will come along as confidence builds. Also, embrace a growth mindset with perspectives when things don’t go well. Resilience balanced with realistic expectations creates good self-esteem.
Add in options
Students need optimal choices to encourage responsibility and create ownership. You encourage taking responsibility for homework and home chores when there are a few choices. Set up a schedule for both with your student so that they will buy into the work. Offer levels of flexibility and independence as part of the choices. That would be when the time is set or how much supervision is possible. Be clear about the outcome no matter the options. Using a chart with clear expectations makes clear the outcome.
Always remember it’s about the relationship
Self-esteem and self-confidence flourish in a loving environment. Your relationship is the most important factor. Students with ADHD often feel they’re letting you down, doing things wrong, or not being ‘good.’ Protect your relationship by providing perspectives when things get out of kilter. Change can happen when you focus on support, strengths, and common ground.